I’m Postponing Dental Treatment Because It’s Not Bothering Me

north Austin dentistWe all exist in a stress-filled, action-packed, and not-enough-hours-in-the-day world. But postponing the inevitable can often exacerbate the condition making it much worse than if you had dealt with it immediately upon discovery. If your dentist diagnoses a problem, do not delay dental treatment just because it is not bothering you right now.

A dental cavity is literally a hole in the enamel of your tooth. You may not yet feel the effect, but as bacteria builds, the hole becomes bigger and the tooth decay builds. Your dentist has the tools to identify this condition at its earliest stage … take advantage of treatment right away to eliminate problems later.

Postponing having a cavity treated can lead to the need for intervention to save your tooth eventually. Decay can lead to infection which can advance to an abscess. That little cavity could have been filled in minutes, but the delay has led to the need for a root canal and a crown to salvage the tooth. The end result is costly and time consuming treatment that could have been prevented.

You’ve noticed your gums are starting to bleed, but you aren’t having any discomfort. You brush your teeth every day and floss every once in a while. You may have skipped a couple of dental visits, but since your teeth feel good, you’re not concerned.

You may be experiencing the early onset of gum disease known as gingivitis. Without treatment symptoms grow including red, swollen gums; chronic bad breath; receding gum tissue; and the possibility of losing one or more teeth.

Both dental decay and gum disease are very preventable conditions. But they require daily attention and keeping consistent dental visits. Daily attention includes brushing with a fluoridated tooth paste or gel at least twice each day.

Flossing daily is critical. This removes food particles from between teeth that your tooth brush can’t reach. In addition, gum tissue is stimulated which aids in keeping your gums healthy.

Finally, your dentist can play a huge role in your dental health. Your teeth will be cleaned removing plaque that has built up since your previous visit; teeth will be polished; a complete dental exam will reveal issues that should be addressed; and you will receive the advice needed to maintain excellent dental health for life.

Contact Balcones Family Dental at 512-200-7422 to schedule your next visit.

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The First Signs of Gingivitis

dentist 78729Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease, and is often the result of minimal or absent daily hygiene care and missed visits with the dentist for a complete cleaning and dental exam. Some of the indicators you should watch for include:

Bleeding gums – Gums may bleed if your brush vigorously or use a hard bristle tooth brush. The answer is to lighten up – scrubbing teeth too hard may be doing more harm than good. A soft bristle tooth brush is recommended … an electronic tooth brush is a solution as no pressure is needed. All you have to do is guide the brush, and let it do the work.

If gums are bleeding without provocation, you may be dealing with gum disease. Healthy gums do not bleed.

Gum appearance – Healthy gum tissue is pink … gums that are red and swollen may be infected.

Chronic bad breath – Strong foods and beverages can give you bad breath, but if halitosis is on-going you are probably dealing with some type of infection. Sinus and throat illness can produce a sour odor, but if you believe your teeth are the source of your bad breath, a visit to the dentist is needed.

If gum tissue has started to recede or teeth feel loose, you are no longer in the gingivitis stage of gum disease. You are now dealing with the more advanced condition, periodontitis. The bacteria that has been left on your teeth from a lack of brushing, flossing, and dental visits has now grown below the gum tissue and is destroying the bone structure that is holding your teeth in place.

Gum disease can impact one tooth or one area … the entire mouth does not have to be involved to require treatment. And even the most diligent can be faced with gingivitis. This is why early childhood care is so important. Many adults dealing with gum disease can point to a lack of or improper care growing up; this is more evident if parents and siblings also deal with gum disease.

You can break that cycle. Daily flossing is possibly the most important contributor to maintaining healthy gum tissue. Brushing with a fluoridated tooth paste at least twice each day coupled with consistent visits to the dentist for a thorough cleaning and dental exam will result in healthy teeth and gums.

Contact our team at Balcones Family Dental today to schedule your next professional exam.

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Porcelain Veneers Create Stunning Smiles

veneers North AustinIf a noticeable flaw, such as a chip, crack or stain, is a drag on your smile’s appearance, consider porcelain veneers as a convenient, affordable way to upgrade your pearly whites.

Porcelain veneers are tremendously versatile. In addition to concealing the imperfections listed above, veneers can help make an undersized tooth look more proportional in relation to its neighbors or create the illusion of proper alignment in a stretch of crooked teeth.

This valuable cosmetic dentistry intervention can help the patient attain the desired outcomes in a relatively short period of time, generally within a few weeks.

The treatment process of veneers will take place over at least two appointments. At the first visit, the dentist will take impressions and gather other information from the patient to determine the veneers’ design. Depending on the thickness of the veneers, the teeth may also be prepped for veneer placement at that appointment. A thin layer of enamel is removed from the tooth to make room for the veneer. 

This valuable cosmetic dentistry intervention can help the patient attain the desired outcomes in a relatively short period of time, generally within a few weeks.

While awaiting the permanent veneers, patients can wear temporary veneers to maintain the smile’s appearance in the interim.

When the veneers are ready, the patient will return to the dental office to have them placed. Any last-minute changes to the shape or shade of the veneer desired by the patient can be made prior to placement. After the veneers are bonded to the teeth, they cannot be altered.

If any decay or gum disease is present, your dentist may want to treat that condition prior to placing veneers. Ask if there are any specific considerations in your case that could create a delay in the treatment timeline.

You should also work with the cosmetic dentistry specialist to plan for the ongoing care of your veneers. While porcelain is considered a fragile material, it is quite strong when bonded to the tooth. With proper maintenance, porcelain veneers can last up to a decade.

Porcelain veneers can help you dramatically improve your smile. Ask a member of our experienced staff if veneers might be beneficial in your case. Call Balcones Family Dental at 512-200-7422 today to schedule your visit.

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How will Invisalign affect my life?

Invisalign Round RockWhen considering orthodontic treatment, patients will often weigh any inconveniences associated with the treatment and the overall effects that braces will have on their day-to-day lives. Fortunately, patients who choose Invisalign will experience minimal, if any, disruption to their daily routines.

Invisalign uses clear plastic trays to reposition the teeth rather than brackets and wires. Although patients should wear the trays for 20-22 hours per day to get the best results within the desired timeline, the trays can be removed at meal time and in the morning and evening to allow you to perform your oral hygiene routine.

Therefore, patients who choose this method will be able to continue to enjoy their favorite foods. Of course, sweet treats should still be limited in order to reduce your risk of tooth decay. Additionally, you won’t need to use any special tools or techniques beyond proper brushing and flossing to keep your teeth clean.

Another benefit of this system is that your smile is not obscured by metal appliances during treatment. Even “clear” brackets still require wires and cover up your teeth, but with Invisalign, you can enjoy the results as they develop.

To gain all of the advantages of Invisalign, patients do need to take on more responsibility for the treatment, however. With the dentist’s oversight, patients play a more active role with this system.

Patients will receive a number of Invisalign trays that must be changed periodically to keep the teeth moving in the desired direction. Patients need to adhere to the timeline provided by their dentist for changing the trays.

However, because the patient is essentially making the necessary adjustments, there are fewer visits to the dentist’s office with Invisalign. There’s no need to schedule appointments every few weeks to have wires changed or other appliances tweaked or modified. Most Invisalign patients will complete treatment within about 18 months, which is shorter than the period needed for traditional orthodontics.

Invisalign is unlikely to create the need for any significant changes in your life. Just be sure to wear the trays for the recommended amount of time each day and switch to a new tray according to the schedule provided by your dentist. Feel free to ask a member of our staff if you have any specific concerns about this treatment.

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What Can I Expect to Happen to My Teeth and Gums as I Age?

dentist north AustinThe entire human body evolves over time. Just like changes to skin, hair, and physical attributes; teeth and gums are likely to change as we age as well. One of the things that can improve the chances of maintaining excellent oral health throughout life is to keep appointments with your dentist every six months.

At these bi-annual dental appointments, you are receiving:

Thorough cleaning – all plaque that has built-up since your previous dental visit is removed. Plaque is a sticky film that forms on teeth that can result in dental decay and/or gum disease.

Polishing – Your teeth will look their best because after plaque is removed, your dental provider will use a high speed instrument to polish teeth to remove stain and brighten your teeth’s appearance.

Exam – Your dentist is not just looking for cavities during your appointment. You are being checked for problems associated with oral cancer, gum disease, broken or cracked teeth, TMJ, worn enamel (from teeth grinding and jaw clenching), and gum recession … as well as decay.

Your dentist is not just looking for cavities during your appointment.

You can assist your dentist and improve your chances of maintaining great dental health by following a few rules:

Brush at least twice each day with a fluoridated tooth paste or gel. Use a soft bristle tooth brush and do not use excessive pressure when brushing. A heavy hand can lead to premature gum recession.

Floss daily especially at night to remove dental debris your tooth brush did not reach. Daily flossing not only helps keep plaque limited, but gum tissue is stimulated each time you floss.

Monitor your diet to limit sugary snacks and beverages. Too much sugar increases plaque which contributes to dental decay and gum disease. This will be good for your waistline as well.

Do not smoke or use tobacco in any form.

Research has proven there is a correlation between dental health and overall physical health. People dealing with diseases of the immune system and/or heart disease face a greater chance of developing gum disease. Gum disease can affect people of all ages, but the risk increases when coupled with poor overall health.

While genetics may play a role in our ultimate dental health, taking great care of our oral health throughout life may allow us to keep our biological teeth for a lifetime of smiles.

Call Balcones Family Dental today and set up an appointment with one of our caring dentists.

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Avoid Metal Wires and Brackets with Invisalign

Invisalign Cedar ParkHaving straight teeth is more important for your dental health than a beautiful smile. However, many teens and adults are often more concerned about appearance and functionality than health concerns. But there is a way to achieve a great smile and healthy teeth without sacrificing aesthetics during treatment. Invisalign clear aligners provide results without metal wires and brackets.

An over bite, under bite, or cross bite can result in creating areas in the mouth where crooked teeth harbor bacteria increasing plaque build-up. This excessive plaque increases the likelihood for dental decay or gum disease. When teeth are straight, your tooth brush and floss have a better chance to reach those areas.

The advantages of Invisalign clear aligners over metal bands and brackets are numerous. They include:

Removable – Metal braces are cemented in place. They aren’t going anywhere until treatment is completed. Invisalign aligners are simply popped out to eat meals and snacks. This means no limits on what you can eat. Just put back when done.

Since they are removable, the daily oral hygiene regimen of brushing and flossing is easily completed without any metal obstacles.

Transparent – No one wants a mouthful of metal, but you can smile freely because these teeth straighteners are virtually invisible. The aligners are made from a clear material making your teeth straightening treatment indiscernible.

Comfortable – Metal wires can break poking into soft oral tissues or the metal bands can rub creating abrasions. This can’t happen with Invisalign because there are no metal or wires involved.

A consultation with our dentist will provide all the information you need to transform your misshapen teeth into a beautiful smile. Once you have been qualified for Invisalign, our dentist will take dental impressions, photographs, and x-rays.

These are the tools used by the Invisalign lab to fabricate a series of aligners using 3-D digital technology. The aligners are replaced every couple of weeks with subtle changes allowing teeth to be gently repositioned to correct the bite.

Aligners are designed to be worn a minimum of twenty to twenty-two hours every day to keep the straightening process on track.

At the conclusion of treatment, the patient will have a beautiful smile. But the ultimate reward is the potential for healthy teeth and gums improved to last a lifetime.

Call our team today at 512-200-7422 and set up a consultation with our skilled dental team.

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Subtle Straightening with Invisalign

Invisalign Cedar ParkSubtle straightening of teeth for improving the smile was once only treatable with full orthodontic appliances. With Invisalign, subtle straightening is possible and can easily fit into a patient’s daily routine with minimal behavioral changes or inconveniences. Invisalign utilizes clear, custom-made aligners that can be removed for eating and oral hygiene habits, making it easier for patients to continue their daily lifestyles while benefiting from the subtle straightening treatment.

The process begins with a visit to an Invisalign provider. After reviewing pictures, X-rays, and models of the teeth made from impressions taken in the office, the Invisalign dentist customizes the treatment plan for each individual patient. A series of aligners are made and at regular intervals, the aligners are changed to gradually move and guide teeth to straighter and healthier positions. Through the use of custom-made Invisalign aligners, gaps between teeth can be closed, slightly overlapping teeth can be repositioned for a better fit and smoother appearance, and the smile can be drastically improved in a matter of months. 

Invisalign utilizes clear, custom-made aligners that can be removed for eating and oral hygiene habits, making it easier for patients to continue their daily lifestyles while benefiting from the subtle straightening treatment.

The aligners are worn an average of 22 hours every day, and regular visits to the Invisalign dentist are necessary to ensure consistent progress and accurate timing for aligner changes. The aligners are clear and durable, but not unbreakable so patients are given specific instructions for maintaining the aligners. Aligners are cleaned with specially designed Invisalign cleaner tablets, similar to the tablets made for soaking and cleaning dental prosthetics. They can, alternatively, be cleaned with a gentle liquid soap and cool water. Hot water should be avoided as the heat can cause inadvertent bending and warping.

Invisalign aligners should be removed during eating and drinking. Chewing with the aligners in causes unnecessary pressure that can lead to damage. Beverages can seep into the aligners and cause staining or enamel damage to teeth, especially acidic and highly pigmented beverages. Water can be consumed with and without the aligners in, without concern. Regular daily flossing and twice-daily brushing habits are easily maintained with the removable aligners, as well.

For more information about subtle straightening and Invisalign options, contact our experienced dentistry team and schedule your professional consultation today.

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Do Certain Health Conditions Reduce Implant Success?

dental implants north AustinThe success of dental implants relies heavily on the patient’s overall and oral health before and after implantation, and the patient’s oral health, and to some extent their overall health, rely on good oral hygiene habits. Patients that are healthy, floss daily, and brush their teeth at least twice daily, with no signs of gum disease or other oral health concerns are generally considered good candidates for successful implant treatment. Patients with chronic health conditions such as heart disease or diabetes may require additional care to improve potential for success with dental implants.

Risk of infection is at the top of the list concerning implant patients. Gum disease can increase the likelihood of an infection developing and disrupting the healing process after implant surgery. It can also spread to the bloodstream and affect overall health, especially in patients with heart conditions. The healing process requires the jawbone to heal with the implant in place, and if this is interrupted the dental implant may not hold successfully. Dentists work with patients to improve overall conditions before performing the implant surgery, helping to ensure greater success.

Patients with diabetes and some heart conditions may struggle with repeated gum infections, gum disease, or related periodontal disease. These conditions must be improved prior to dental implant surgery. Part of the treatment process is helping the patient learn better brushing, flossing, and at-home oral health techniques, establishing consistent oral hygiene habits, and, when necessary, treating the periodontal conditions prior to implant surgery. If the jawbone is affected by underlying conditions, there may be insufficient bone to support the dental implant. In such a case, a bone graft is usually combined with the implant procedure for greater success.

The dentist works with patients on an individual basis to ensure the best chance of successful healing and long-term satisfaction from dental implant surgery. This may involve additional treatment factors to prepare for the implant, or it may involve more frequent follow-up care to ensure healing is sufficient after the procedure.

For more detailed information on dental implants and options that suit different needs, contact Balcones Family Dental at 512-200-7422 today!

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Can I Still Drink Tea and Coffee with Invisalign?

Invisalign north AustinIf you’re treating your misaligned or crooked teeth with Invisalign, it’s important to keep your trays in good shape and to keep them clean. If the aligner trays become warped or damaged, they won’t move your teeth properly. If they become stained, your teeth will look dingy until you switch to a new tray. For both these reasons, it’s important not to drink tea or coffee while you are wearing your aligner trays.

Caring for Your Invisalign Aligner Trays

When you received your aligner trays, our dentist will provide instructions regarding how to take care of them, how often to change them, and how long you should wear them every day. For the best possible results from your treatment, you should follow these instructions closely.

In general, guidelines on how to take care of your trays include:

  • Wear the trays at least 22 hours every day
  • Remove the trays when you eat
  • Rinse the trays to keep them clean and free of food debris
  • Avoid hot beverages or foods that can stain the trays

The trays are designed to move your teeth into the proper position, so it’s important to keep them clean and avoid anything that could change their shape.

Why Avoid Coffee and Tea?

Coffee and tea can affect your Invisalign treatment in two ways. First, they are usually hot beverages, so the heat of the liquid can cause your trays to warp out of their proper shape. Second, they are both staining agents. In the same way that tea and coffee can stain your teeth, they can also stain your aligner trays. If the trays become stained, they will no longer be clear. Because you have to wear each tray for about two weeks, during that time the stains will be visible, making your teeth look discolored.

If you want to enjoy a cup of coffee or tea with your breakfast, remove your trays first. However, be sure not to leave them out of your mouth for an extended period of time.

Call Balcones Family Dental today to set up an appointment with one of our skilled dentists.

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Benefits of Fluoride Treatments

north Austin dentistOn your regular visits to the dentist, you probably receive a fluoride treatment about once a year. These treatments help protect your teeth from decay and can even reverse decay in its very early stages. With these regular treatments, your teeth stay as healthy as possible.

How Does Fluoride Work?

Fluoride is one of a few minerals that help keep the teeth strong. Teeth are constantly being eroded by acids in the food we eat and beverages we drink. In addition, bacteria in the mouth create waste products that are also highly acidic and damage the teeth. If acidic food remnants or the plaque bacteria leaves behind are not cleaned away, they eat into the outer tooth surfaces. The early stage of this process is called demineralization. Eventually, the acids can eat through the enamel, creating decay.

Fluoride, however, helps rebuild the enamel through a process called remineralization. Fluoride strengthens the damaged areas and reverses the earliest stages of tooth decay. It also helps your teeth remain stronger and more resistant to acid erosion. This is why it’s important to use a fluoride toothpaste on a regular basis. In many places, fluoride is also added to drinking water, which helps keep teeth healthy, as well, especially the teeth of children, who have more difficulty maintaining regular dental care.

Fluoride strengthens the damaged areas and reverses the earliest stages of tooth decay.

Why Do I Need Extra Fluoride?

Fluoride treatments are a common procedure in dentistry. But if there is fluoride added to our drinking water, and we use toothpaste with added fluoride, why is it necessary to have fluoride treatments when we go to the dentist? The answer is that a dentist can use a stronger, more concentrated form of fluoride, and can apply it to your teeth in a variety of ways.

In the dental office, fluoride can be applied as a gel, foam, or varnish. Regular fluoride treatments are typically a gel or a foam, which helps strengthen the teeth and reverse minor decay that regular-strength fluoride hasn’t been able to remineralize. Fluoride varnishes can be used to reduce sensitivity and to seal the teeth to further protect from decay, so these applications of fluoride work even more thoroughly to protect your teeth.

Call our office at 512-200-7422 to set up your next appointment.

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